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European Defence Agency (from 2011)

The European Defence Agency supports the Council and the Member States in their effort to improve the European Union’s defence capabilities and to sustain the Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP) by identifying operational requirements, strengthening the European Union’s industrial and technological base, promoting research and effective military procurement.


Council Decision 2011/411/CFSP of 12 July 2011 defining the statute, seat and operational rules of the European Defence Agency and repealing Joint Action 2004/551/CFSP.


The European Defence Agency (EDA) was established in 2004 as an agency in the field of defence capabilities development, research, acquisition and armaments to support the Council and the Member States in their effort to improve the European Union’s defence capabilities.

It provides a legal and institutional framework to enable European Union (EU) Member States to cooperate in developing military capabilities, in the context of the EU’s common foreign and security policy (CFSP), and in particular the CSDP.

The Treaty of Lisbon inserted a specific provision on the EDA into the Treaty on European Union (Article 45; see also Article 42(3)). Consequently, in July 2011, the Council adopted Decision 2011/411/CFSP replacing the original legal act underpinning the EDA.


The Agency’s tasks are to:

  • contribute to identifying EU countries’ military capability objectives and evaluating observance of their capability commitments;
  • promote the harmonisation of operational needs and the adoption of effective, compatible procurement methods;
  • put forward multilateral projects to fulfil military capability objectives, ensure coordination of programmes implemented by members and management of specific cooperation programmes;
  • support defence technology research and coordinate and plan joint research activities and how to meet future operational needs;
  • contribute to strengthening the defence sector’s industrial base and to improving the effectiveness of military expenditure, e.g. by developing relevant strategies in consultation with the Commission or with industry.

The Agency is also ready to support permanent structured cooperation, should the Council so decide.

The Agency’s mission is without prejudice to the competences of Member States in defence matters.


Headquartered in Brussels, the Agency is under the political supervision of the Council.

A Steering Board, comprising one representative per country and a European Commission representative (without voting rights), is the EDA’s decision-making body. It meets at Defence Minister level at least twice a year, and in specific compositions, such as Research and Technology Directors or Defence Policy Directors, at other times. All EU countries except Denmark participate in the EDA.

The High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy heads the EDA and provides the link between the EDA and the Council. A Chief Executive is responsible for the oversight and coordination of the functional units.


The Agency’s operating costs are funded by its member countries in proportion to their GNP. Individual projects are funded separately by the participating member countries.

Relations with third countries

The Agency may establish cooperation with third countries. It may also collaborate with international organisations such as the European Space Agency (ESA) or the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Council Decision 2011/411/CFSP



OJ L 183, 13.7.2011

Last updated: 18.06.2014